Blood of Anteros, page 14part #1 of Vampire Agápe Series
I retrieved the peroxide and washcloths from her bathroom and returned, as instructed. I screwed the top off and held the bottle over her foot. “Are you ready? I hope it burns.”
She leaned forward and slapped my free arm. “Yeah. Go for it.”
I poured a little peroxide over her cut and watched it bubble and spew. When she didn’t scream, I remembered it was alcohol that burned.
“Something weird happened to me last night,” she said in a mysterious manner, peaking my curiosity.
Since she didn’t scream I poured a little more. “Tell me about it because I can listen while I amputate your foot.”
There was a stubborn spot of dried blood next to the cut, so I wet the washcloth with peroxide and lightly rubbed it.
“I dreamed of Emelyn last night and she told me to tell you about the day we were born. It’s strange, I know.”
“It is, but I think that’s why I want you to tell me. I like strange.”
“I’ve never wanted to talk about Emelyn before. I don’t tell people that I had a twin because I don’t like explaining what happened, but for some reason, I want to tell you about her.”
“The suspense is killing me,” I said, prompting her to begin her tale.
“We were born in Kauai and there was a total solar eclipse that day. It couldn’t be seen here, but Hawaii was one place it occurred.”
As I continued cleaning her foot, she wiggled her toes and said, “Hey, that tickles. Are you trying to rub my birthmark off or what?”
It was a birthmark and it was a weird spot, so I angled her foot for a better view and said, “I’m sorry, I’m listening. Go on.”
“So, the darkness lasted like six or seven minutes and Emelyn was delivered first, during the complete darkness, but her heart never beat and she never took a breath. Several minutes later, I was delivered, just as the sun began to peak around the moon. While the light of the sun was returning, two butterflies floated into the delivery room and landed on my newborn arm. They just appeared, then flew away, to never be seen again. The Hawaiians believe in superstitions and omens and they told my mom it was an omen of something to come.”
It was no mere coincidence two butterflies appeared on my arm at the same exact time, halfway around the world. I studied the dark spot on the bottom of her foot, finally realizing it was a birthmark shaped like a butterfly with outstretched wings, making Sebastian’s prediction true. She was marked with the sign of Anteros and it found a way to reveal itself to me.
“I don’t understand, but Emelyn said that you would,” she said, confused.
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand your dream, or what it means,” I lied.
Her face became concerned. “Why do you look so sad?”
The time to say goodbye had arrived and it was going to hurt like nothing I’d ever known. “I’m not sad. I actually have good news because I have received a very promising job offer and I accepted.”
“That’s wonderful. I want to hear all about it.”
“It’s an advertising firm in New York City. They’re very prestigious and it’s a wonderful opportunity to further my career,” I lied.
She dropped her face, unwilling to look into my eyes. I smelled the salty aroma of the tears threatening to fall from her eyes. “Oh, I see, I guess this means you’re leaving.”
“Yeah, they want me there as soon as possible,” I fabricated.
She busied herself with gathering the peroxide and washcloths used to clean her foot and stood without looking at me. “That’s wonderful. I’m very happy for you and I know you’ll do very well for yourself.”
I caused the pain she was feeling and I never felt more like a fiend. As she hobbled toward the door, she said, “I guess it’s a good thing you didn’t stay here long enough to make any real connections with people, so your moving history may remain intact. I’m sure you have packing to do, so I shouldn’t keep you from it.” She opened the door, but stopped before entering. She peered at me over her shoulder and disguised her pain with a forced smile. “Good luck, Curry. I hope you find what it is you’re looking for.”
I didn’t want this to be the way it ended. “Chansey, please, wait.” I didn’t know what I was going to say, but it didn’t matter, because she didn’t stop. She hurried inside the house, shutting the door between us, so the tears could fall.
It took 139 years to find her and only a few precious days to lose her, so if leaving was the right thing to do, shouldn’t it be easier than this?
The Emersons didn’t take the news of my departure well and their reaction made me realize Chansey wasn’t the only one I was leaving. I thought of the friends and relationships I had made through Chansey and a new wave of regret flooded me.
Chansey refused to see me after I told her I was leaving and she somehow managed to evade me each time I tried. I don’t know, maybe I allowed her to elude me with weak attempts because I couldn’t bare to have a bad goodbye, but if I was honest with myself, I just feared she wouldn’t ask me to stay.
I finished packing and sat on the couch, waiting for Chansey to come tell me goodbye. Every thirty minutes, I persuaded myself to wait another half hour and after sitting in silence for four hours, I realized it was pointless to wait any longer. The time to leave had arrived.
I walked to my truck, praying the whole way, she would run out and throw her arms around me, although I was certain leaving was the safest thing for Chansey. If she asked me to stay, I didn’t know if I’d be able to go, but I wanted to find out. I got into my truck and sat there, giving her just a little longer. I reached to turn the key in the ignition and hesitated, then placed my hand on my leg. I desperately fought to urge to use my long buried ability to reach out to her mind to persuade her to stop me from leaving. I wanted the desire to be hers, not one I placed there for her and I inwardly prayed, “Don’t let me go. Come on, Chansey, please don’t let me go.”
I thought my prayers were answered when I heard the screech of the kitchen door, so I opened my truck door and stepped out to meet Chansey as she ran toward me. I rounded the corner of the house in search of the girl I loved, but my hopes were deflated when I saw Anna walking toward me with a plate. “Curry, I made you some cookies. Its’ going to be a long drive and you won’t get any home cooking where you’re going.”
I tried to hide my disappointment. “Thank you, Mrs. Emerson. That was very thoughtful of you, but I’ll probably have all of them eaten before I get out of the state.”
“What’s wrong, Curry? Aren’t you happy about your new job?”
“I am.” She looked expectedly at me, waiting for an explanation and I hesitated before I said, “It’s just that I haven’t seen Chansey since I told her I was leaving and I had hoped to say goodbye.”
“I saw the disappointment on your face when you realized it wasn’t her coming out to say goodbye, but don’t worry, I don’t take it personally.”
“Why does she refuse to see me?” I asked.
“Chansey thought there was something between you and she is hurt because you are leaving and by the way you told her. She thought she deserved better than that and I’m afraid she just isn’t in a place where she feels like she can tell you goodbye. I’m sorry. I told her she would regret not seeing you.”
“It’s alright, Mrs. Emerson. It was my mistake, not yours. Would you please tell her goodbye for me and that I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt her.”
“I will tell her.” She hugged me and added, “Drive safely.”
“I will, and thank you, again. I have enjoyed living here with you and I miss all of you more than I can say.”
I didn’t expect it to be easy, but leaving Chansey proved more painful than I could have imagined. She walked away, choosing to not see me again and I didn’t realize how truly heart broken I was until this moment.
* * *
I spent the next two weeks watching her night and day and I spent every day fol
I promised to keep her safe and I would do that by any means necessary without an ounce of guilt. I didn’t want her out of my sight for a minute because I was scared I would miss the moment she told a friend how much she missed me or how badly she wanted me to come back to her.
Chansey’s phone rang and I listened in on her conversation as she made plans to join a friend for dinner. I crouched silently in my hiding spot, waiting for her friend to arrive and prayed my eyes deceived me, but knew they didn’t when I felt my heart drop to my stomach. I watched Crosby park in the drive and walk to the front door. Chansey opened the door, obviously expecting his arrival as she greeted him with a smile and, unknowingly, broke my heart even more.
Two weeks in and I was coming undone. If I had this kind of reaction over a date with a guy I didn’t like, how would I handle a boyfriend, or a husband?
When they left, I considered staying behind because I wasn’t sure I could stomach watching them together. As they drove away, I considered how I would feel if something happened to her while I stayed behind sulking and remembered my responsibility to keep her safe, no matter the circumstances.
I ran to my truck and began my pursuit, catching them easily, then maintaining my distance all the way to Biloxi. Their destination ended at one of the highly recommended restaurants on the Biloxi coast, so I knew he meant to impress her.
He opened the door for her, using the hand that wasn’t broken and I took special pleasure in hoping the fracture still caused him pain. Giving them time to be seated, I entered the old French house restaurant and was greeted by a young, enthusiastic hostess. I passed a hundred dollar bill to her and said, “Party of one. Will this be enough for a table in the dining room adjacent to where you just seated the couple ahead of me? I do not wish to be seen by them, will that be a problem?”
She took the money and said, “I believe I have the perfect table to suit your needs. This way, sir.” She lead me through several rooms, avoiding where Chansey sat with Crosby and asked, “Does this table suit you, sir?” as she showed me to a table in the corner of the adjacent room.
“I believe this will be just fine,” I said, as I took my seat.
“My pleasure, sir. Anthony will be your server and he will be you in a moment,” she said, as she handed a menu to me.
I waved my hand at the menu. “That won’t necessary.”
“As you wish, sir.”
As promised, Anthony promptly appeared, saying, “Are you ready to order, sir?”
“Yes, a whiskey sour, please.” I held a hundred out to Anthony and said, “There is a man in the adjacent dining room with a beautiful young woman. He is wearing a blue and white striped button-up and his date is wearing an emerald green dress. Will this ensure the date doesn’t go well?”
Anthony took the cash from my hand and said, “Yes, sir, I think that can be arranged.” Moments later, he returned with my drink. “Will there be anything else, sir?”
“Not at the moment, thank you.”
I eavesdropped on Chansey and Crosby from the corner where I sat and the conversation between them was dull and boring. The more Crosby spoke, the further he convinced me, he was an ass and it really had nothing to do with the fact that he was out on a date with my beloved.
He spoke of himself, rarely allowing Chansey an opportunity to speak and when she did, she sounded uninterested and distant and I hoped I was the reason. My antics to ruin the date were unnecessary since Crosby was doing a great job all by himself.
Everyone in the restaurant heard the crash of the plate in Crosby’s lap, followed by the long list of obscenities leaving his mouth and Anthony returned to my table. “Will there be anything else, sir?”
I passed him a second hundred and said, “That will be all, Anthony, and this is for a job well done.”
“Thank you, sir.”
As I hoped, Chansey was returned home before nine. I was a cur for ruining her date, but I could be worse if it became a requirement. I hoped Crosby did my job for me, by using his foul mouth, to ruin any opportunity for future dates with her.
Chansey fell asleep early, and when I was certain the entire household was asleep, I entered her dark bedroom to be closer to her. The first time was supposed to be just for a minute, but it turned into all night, then one time turned into every night, and so here I sat next to her, just as I had every night since I left.
Seeing her with another man confirmed I had lost her, but I wasn’t ready to let go yet. I felt the need to be closer to her, and I tortured myself further by lying next to her. I bravely laid close enough to feel the heat of her body without physical touching her and she stirred in her sleep, with her hand finding it’s resting place upon my chest. I could have prevented it, but I didn’t because I craved her touch and had been without it for too long.
She shifted throughout the night, eventually nuzzling her body against mine and once settled into position, neither of us moved a millimeter the rest of the night. The bliss I felt made me a little too comfortable and I dozed off before dawn. The approaching light of the morning forced my eyes open to find Chansey staring at me, her skin drenched with adrenalin as her heart pounded forcefully, her carotid visually throbbing under her skin with each powerful pulsation. Her respirations heaved in and out erratically and she said nothing, as she reached and took a lock of my hair, twirling it around her finger.
I was left without a choice. I couldn’t allow her to remember this, but before I stole her memory of our reunion, I needed a selfish moment. I touched her face with my fingertips and stared deep into her eyes as I said, “I love you, Chansey Rose Leclaire and it is a terrible tragedy that you will never know how much because I could never be the same after loving you.”
“James Curry Brennan, my love for you consumes me. Sometimes, I think I will burst into flames, just from thinking about you. I spend every waking second burning to be with you and my love for you is incomparable to anything I have ever known.”
I would always treasure these words whispered in these early morning hours. “I will never forget the way the morning sun lights your face.” I kissed her forehead and said, “I love you with every fiber of my being, but I can’t allow you to remember this.” She stretched forward and kissed my lips tenderly.
“You’re leaving again, aren’t you?” she asked.
“I have to.”
The tears in her eyes spilled down her cheeks. “Don’t go, let me show you all the reasons you should stay.”
This was what I wanted, to hear her ask me to stay, but I gathered all the strength I could find to say, “I want nothing more than to be with you, but the price of me staying is more than either of us can afford.”
She took my hand and placed it over the left side of her chest. “I’ll be waiting for you right here, inside my heart, always.”
I used my power of persuasion and regretfully compelled her. “Sleep now, my love and release your tight hold of the present.”
She closed her eyes and began her journey into a world where truth became dreams, and as she drifted deeper, she slowly whispered, “Please don’t leave me.”
“My precious one, when you wake later this morning, you will not remember these moments together, but you will know in your heart how much I wanted to stay with you. I love you and I will protect you, always.”
My reunion with Chansey shook me to the core and I feared the path my actions had taken, so I didn’t return to her bedroom after that morning. I kept my distance in an attempt to prevent any further lapse in judgement.
Over the next two weeks, Chansey was quite the social butterfly, and much to my chagrin, some of her socializing included Crosby, so I was forced to witness their budding relationship. Everyday was harder than the next and I was beginning to won
Tonight, I stood out of sight, behind the trees at the back of beach park and watched Chansey celebrate the Fourth of July with her friends, Crosby included. Like a plaque that wouldn’t go away, he lingered near Chansey, taking every opportunity to touch her, and I watched painfully, as she didn’t withdraw from his touch.
Her interaction with Crosby puzzled me because, before I took her memory of us together, she confessed her burning love for me and I didn’t understand how she could have such strong feelings for me, yet welcome his touch.
Chansey abandoned her crowd of friends, walking toward the building housing the restrooms and I was relieved to see her separation from Crosby. The thought of them leaving together crossed my mind, making me feel ill, and I grew dangerously close to giving in to the temptation of running to her and telling her everything.
I waited for Chansey’s return from the restroom and became concerned when she didn’t emerge after several minutes. Something was off and I didn’t like it. My senses escalated to high alert as I felt something new and different emerging inside of me. My new intuition was confirmed when I realized what I felt was fear; Chansey’s fear.
I raced to the building housing the restrooms and found a woman exiting the women’s side. “Ma’am, can you tell me if there was a young woman in there wearing denim shorts with a red and white striped shirt?”
“I’m sorry. There was no one in there.”
I stood looking in every direction. I sniffed the air in search for the fragrance that would lead me to her. She was East, toward the parking lot, and just as I was about to follow the scent, a young girl approached me. “Are you Curry?”
“A man paid me to give you this.” The girl held out an envelope. I took it from her and quickly opened it to find the necklace and butterfly pendant Chansey always wore, along with a note reading, “You said I couldn’t get to her, but you were wrong. Happy Independence Day!”
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